I dressed and went outside, having had my morning smoothie. It soon became apparent that I'd have to take away some fence panels and replace them. Then it became apparent that the panels were the sort which I can't buy because they're too big for my car. Then it became apparent that the neighbours' second fence was also completely rotten. I should quickly point out about the neighbours' second fence. At some point there was a pleasant fence between the two properties. This fell into disrepair a bit, and my house's previous owner solved the problem by sticking up a new fence on my side. This was, I think, also a measure of increasing their privacy.
I've always had a good relationship with the neighbours with this particular fence, and it was one of them that alerted me to the fact that I'd be needing to spend some quality fencing time on it this visit. To cut a dull story shorter, I ended up stripping a lot of very old fencing wood from both my collapsed fence and theirs. In the end I had a load of wood, a number of lacerations from prickly weeds, and the necessity of a trip to B&Q. I was cold and I still had the downed fence from last year to sort out. When I'd just bought my Reading house there were some fence panels down on the other side of the garden and my tenants hadn't managed to put the replacement ones up as I'd requested.
Before I headed to B&Q, I dug the necessary holes for the new fence, which would be one with vertical slats, rather than big panels, and I worked out what to do with the other side. It was going to be a busy day!
I succumbed to the burger van at B&Q. Why!? But I did.
I bought a load of stuff and filled the car, tying the boot down with the bag they gave me.
Back at the house, I did my trick of maximising my journeys between the back garden where there was all the detritus from the fence (and other gardening mishaps of the past) and the car, where there was a car full of things from B&Q. So, I walked into the back garden with fenceposts in my hands and back out with bags of crap to bin or big bits of fence to leave out the front.
So, a productive 20 or 30 minutes I suppose.
Then I set to on building the fence. I did about 3 hours of labouring in the garden before the absence of light and any heat in my body brought me back inside. My new section of fence is 8 metres in length. It has 3 new fence posts, requires 8 cross pieces and about 50-60 verticals. I managed to erect the posts and three quarters of the cross pieces were also attached. It's hard work when you really need someone to hold the other end. Still, I used some Spax screws, so I'm happy.
Back inside, I had a hurried meal, a hurried shower - not necessarily in that order, and listened to the second half of the radio programme I'd heard on the way to B&Q - the very entertaining Jammin'. Then I discovered that the evening's entertainment - a musical in Durham, called Mack and Mabel, which was being performed by the group I used to be in, started at 7.15, rather than my previous estimate of 7.30. I wasn't running late, but I decided to head out of the house as though I were. I didn't want to be rushed or stressed.
I have been quite excited about seeing this show, since I set aside the date to come and see it ages ago, and have since heard rave reviews from someone who went to see it earlier this week. I parked in Durham centre, and the excitement of being about to see a show containing people I know, that was likely to be good, made me do a nice jaunty jump in the street.
As I was waiting for the show to start, some members of the group, not in this particular show, turned up and we had our pre-show drink together. That was nice. It was good to catch up. I'd been reading the programme and grinning from ear to ear about the sheer familiarity of it all. It's nice to see that, 3 years since I last did a show with this group, that the same people are still involved, by and large, and that they're using the same modus operani, and that they're going from strength to strength.
The show itself was stunning. Tons of chorus work, tons of set pieces, tap dancing here and there, and it just got bigger and better as it zoomed along. I was either grinning or cackling with laughter - in some cases, I was cackling at the sheer scale of the production along with the fact that I could tell how much work they'd had to put in, and I was kind of glad I hadn't had to do that work - though I know it would have been a total hoot.
After the show I got to catch up with those myriad people from the group whom I've had the pleasure of working with and calling friends in the past.
I'll be honest. If I could snap my fingers and move back up North, and have the security and future that I'm trying to cultivate down South, it would be almost worth doing it just for the chance to get back involved with this musical theatre society. Almost. I think I'm in a position where I can idealise, and I am doing. I've spent the weekend in my house, which is different from when I lived here, but is presently empty save for myself. As a result, I've almost been a tourist in my own past. You always see a place differently as a tourist, because it's all about the temporary nature of the visit and the entertainment you get from it.
Okay, so working my arse off on a garden fence is probably harder graft than most people do on holiday, but you get the point. I don't wash my pants in Newcastle, so I'm not really living here for this weekend. I haven't had to worry about learning tap steps, lines, songs or anything else, so I can idealise the fun of doing shows (it is fun, mind). In truth, I'm not sure I could come back and make a realistic go of things in Newcastle.
Some readers of this blog will want to insert some comments on this, proving me wrong.
I'll put it differently. I can't do it now.
I will be thinking about it over the course of the year, mind.